Starry Night is Vincent van Gogh’s most famous painting. For art critics and historians, it is his career-defining masterpiece. Alongside works such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, it is one of the most recognized works of Western European art.
To answer the question of “when was Starry Night painted?” Van Gogh’s personal letters are invaluable. In June 1889, Van Gogh wrote a letter to his brother Theo. In the letter he described a “new study of a starry sky” he was currently painting.
The previous month he had told of the “wheat fields” visible from his bedroom window. In July, Van Gogh also described how the “very big” morning star lit up the countryside. Starry Night is therefore reliably dated to the spring and summer of 1889.
Although Van Gogh painted the same view in many different forms, Starry Night is the only nocturne amongst these works. Excitingly, astronomers confirmed that Venus (known as the morning star) was clearly visible in Provence during the spring and summer 1889. It was indeed incredibly bright during this period, which means that the “star” in the painting (just right of the cypress tree) is actually the planet Venus.
In addition to the date of the painting, many people also ask exactly where did Van Gogh paint Starry Night?
Van Gogh’s the Starry Night 1889 was painted in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. It is a small yet idyllic commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, located in the Côte d'Azur region of Southern France. Van Gogh painted the work after days spent gazing out from his east-facing lunatic asylum room window.
Consequently, much of the view was imaginary. Elements not apparent in the real scene included the dream-like village and the proximity of the cypress trees. The moon was also waning gibbous (as opposed to waning crescent, as depicted) at this time.
During this period, Van Gogh was convalescing in the Saint-Paul de Mausole asylum after his 1888 mental breakdown. The culminating episode of this breakdown resulted in Van Gogh cutting off his own ear, famously depicted in Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889). After this collapse, Van Gogh voluntarily committed himself for treatment.
Alongside Starry Night, Van Gogh painted many of the best-known works of his career during his time in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. He also created beautifully haunting works such as Irises (May 1889) and the Blue Self-Portrait (September 1889) at the asylum.
Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone later inspired the post-expressionism art movement. Originating in the carnage of the First World War, it aimed to use expressive brush strokes (so favored by Van Gogh) to depict the soul or spirit of people and places. This was in contrast to the introverted characteristics of expressionism which prized the artist’s internal psychic reality above all else.
Van Gogh himself was a member of the post-impressionist art movement. This was a reaction which started in the 1880s against impressionism (championed by Claude Monet). Led by Van Gogh alongside Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Georges Seurat, post-impressionism rejected pure concerns of light and color. Instead, this new wave of artists focused on additional symbolic content and structure.
This approach is nowhere better exemplified than in Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The swirling brushstrokes and luminescent tones strongly represent the artist's inner turmoil and emotional response to the world outside his window. As a true modern masterpiece, the painting has been on permanent display in the Museum of Modern Art (New York City) since its bequest in 1941.
van Gogh is considered the greatest post-impressionist artist of all time but he lived a life of poverty and mental ill health. It is said that in a 10 year period he painted around 900 paintings although he only sold one painting during his short life.
In 1886 van Gogh went to Paris to live with his brother Theo van Gogh who was an art dealer. Whilst in Paris van Gogh became familiar with the new art movements of the time and he was greatly influenced by the work of the Impressionists artists and Japanese printmakers. Vincent van Gogh oil paintings display a reverence for Japanese art which is apparent in paintings such as Flowering Plum Orchard after Hiroshige 1887 and The Courtesan after Eisen 1887.
During the summer of 1888 van Gogh left Paris for southern France and whilst in Provence he painted scenes of Wheatfields, Cypress Trees, peasants and rustic life characteristic of the region. It was when he was living in Arles that he began to use the swirling brush strokes and intense yellows, greens, and blues which we now associate with so many of his paintings.
All of our Van Gogh reproductions on canvas employ the impasto technique introduced by Van Gogh and which is seen in the majority of his paintings.
Van Gogh persuaded Paul Gauguin, whom he had met earlier in Paris to join him in Arles. It was a volatile friendship with one argument culminating in the now famous quarrel in which van Gogh wildly threatened Gauguin with a razor; the same night, in deep remorse, van Gogh cut off part of his own ear.
Van Gogh spent a year in the nearby Asylum of Saint-Remy but continued to paint between repeated spells of mental ill health. Vincent van Gogh's most famous painting The Starry Night 1899. The Starry Night 1899, was painted whilst he was in the Asylum, and depicts the view from his hospital room.
Starry Night over the Rhone was painted in 1888 and is another nighttime painting which was completed at Arles. This scene was just a short walk from The Yellow House at the Place Lamartine a Vincent van Gogh oil painting also completed in 1888.
On July 27 1890, shortly after completing Wheatfields with Crows Vincent shot himself and died two days later at the age of 37.
Famous van Gogh paintings include Irises 1889, The Cafe Terrace at Night. Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers, Vase With Twelve Sunflowers of which there are 12 in the series were painted in Arles during 1888 and 1889; Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers was sold at auction and set a record price for any artwork at that time.
Van Gogh canvas reproductions are for sale in many size options.
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